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The variation of passerine species richness in Spain was studied at various spatial scales. Presence-absence data was resampled to construct three species richness maps in lattices of 10×10, 30×30, and 50×50 km UTM cells. The importance of habitat, species-energy, climatic variability, disturbance, history and geometric constraints hypotheses was assessed using geographical data. Stochastic, range-based models were used to simulate neutral colonization events from Europe or from Africa. The importance of small scale processes remained after the inclusion of environmental covariates, indicating a possible role of ecological interactions that was represented in the models by a conditional spatial autoregressive term. Historical effects and energy related measures explained most of the variation in regional species richness. Local and regional habitat structure measures explained the pattern only after large scale trends were considered. The differences when species richness was analyzed at each scale reveal the importance of spatial issues in diversity studies. The possible role of post glacial migration in shaping the observed patterns, and implications for conservation are discussed.